Keeping it in the family: meet the Bells

Bell Family v2

Here at EEAST we consider ourselves like one big family, but in Chelmsford EOC, three members of the same team really are! Meet Dispatcher Amanda and children Matthew and Emma.

Amanda has worked with the ambulance service since 2003, but the family connection did not begin there. “My dad was a duty manager at the old Coval Lane site in Chelmsford before retiring in 1992,” said Amanda. When asked what made her join the service, she added: “[It] was all I knew growing up and I had always been interested in it, so once I saw the advert for call handlers, I knew I had to apply. After five years I then made the decision to apply for dispatch.”

In 2011, Amanda was then joined on dispatch by son Matthew, who initially worked on a different team. “I was nervous for him”, she says, “but only because I didn’t want people comparing us, and I wanted him to have the chance to establish himself in his own right.”

Matthew says: “I worked nights in a petrol station but felt I needed a new challenge so Mum encouraged me to apply to become a dispatcher, and I had always felt like joining the Trust would be a good move for me.” Matthew enjoyed the new challenges it brought and attended any courses that were made available to him by his then duty manager, before gaining his current role as a dispatch team leader, and joining the same team as Amanda.

“It didn’t make any difference to me working with my mum as I’d already had a chance to settle in to the EOC,” he added. “When we are in our working environment we have a job to do and we get on with it.”

At the end of 2015, Amanda and Matthew were joined by baby of the family, Emma: “I grew up with my mum and then my brother doing shift work and hearing their work stories, so when the opportunity came up to apply to be a call handler, I knew I had to go for it,” she said. When asked what made her choose call handling over dispatch she added: ‘I wanted to actually speak to the public, I liked the idea of being able to help people. For example, last April I took my first full childbirth call, where I helped deliver a healthy baby girl.”

Amanda was initially worried: “I felt more protective of Emma… she was much younger than Matthew and I was worried that the job would not live up to her expectations.” However, her concerns were not shared by brother Matthew who said: ”I always knew Emma would make a good call handler, and that she would be able to cope with the situations thrown at her, as well as abusive callers.”

When asked what she thought when told she had a place on the same team as her mum and brother, Emma admits that it has certainly been helpful when it comes to planning family occasions! “At least if our team ends up working over Christmas, we will be here together!”

The Bell family are managed by Duty EOC Officer Sarah Vicary, whose son Lewis is also a dispatcher on the same team. Sarah says: “It is a pleasure working with Amanda, Matthew and Emma. They are clearly a close family which is nice to see, but remain professional at all times. It’s great that they have each other for support on a day to day basis.”

Do you have any EEAST family connections you’d like to share? Use the ‘Contact us’ form on the bottom right of this page – we’d love to hear from you!

Published 16th February, 2017

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